Friday, October 4, 2013

Bye Bye Baby Blue...

So after the finale I couldn't stop thinking about it.
I haven't read any of the other reactions to end of Breaking Bad besides where someone said the Badfinger song "Baby Blue" that came on over the last scene was laughable. And I took issue with that. And that got me started and here's my take after seeing the final episode only once but I have watched the rest of the season once or twice. This is my scatterbrained theory on Breaking Bad as a series as well as the finale culled from notes I scribbled down while at work.
First I have a theory that Walter White's cancer never went away and he knew it the whole time.
The series takes place in just over a year seeing as how Walt found out about his cancer during the school year and it is mentioned a couple of times through the last season how he amassed $80,000,000 in a year( though he was robbed of nearly 70 million of it.) Then when he returns from hiding it is winter time, supports the one year span of the series.

At first Walter was cooking as a way to cover health costs and have his family provided for but once he realizes the cancer isn't going away it becomes about him what he leaves behind when the cancer takes him, about cementing his legacy. His legacy as Heisenberg with the wanted posters that look just like him with glasses and a hat. Almost reminds me of Superman hiding his true identity behind a pair of glasses. Throughout the series he randomly dons the hat which I was always taking as almost a dare to the rest of the world to realize who he really is.
That's when Walt starts to enjoy the thrills of not knowing what is going to happen next all while building his reputation as a master cook. I don't think he even cares what he is making, the fact he can use his science knowledge to make people fear and respect him is exactly what he needs.
The cancer frees Walt of guilt and the morals that bind everyday society into behaving and as a man of science it seems like Walt doesn't believe in an afterlife so he can justify his actions as not being counted against him after he dies. He is just concerned about the time he has left on Earth.
This also explains why he becomes so non-chalant while they are taking breaks while the meth cooks (eating his lunch while watching television in the tented houses) while Jesse becomes so up-tight.
Its an interesting reversal in their relationship from when Walt was so wound up when they first started cooking and Jesse had the "it's no big deal" attitude. As their time wore on together Jesse loses his freedom and gets trapped in his role as cook's assistant (and later the chef himself) along with being racked with the idea of having to live with the guilt for the rest of his life from everything Mr. White and he did to sustain their meth business. Walt gets more and more relaxed as time goes on because he know whatever he does in a few months or maybe year all that will matter is his legacy and leaving his family financially stable. What he does along the way is just problems he solves which makes him feel more powerful after every time he bests whoever is known as "the best", like the drug dealers in the first season or when Walter gets rid of Gus. You can see it when he is so happy he takes over in the absence of Gus when he says they are working for themselves now, no one is telling them what to do.
I back that up by when Walt tells Skyler comes clean and tells her everything he did was for himself. That he "felt alive" when he was going taking on rivals and evading Hank and the D.E.A.
Whenever Walter started peacocking in front of Skyler leading into straight up scaring her, it was to feel that power especially since he felt so weak from getting cancer on top of missing out on the windfall from Gray Matter business, which he helped start. He wanted Skyler to understand he wasn't acting out of fear and weakness but that he was actual the mental superior to so many scary BAD people. In the beginning he was almost emasculated that he came THIS close to being rich and instead living a hum drum life struggling to make bills (him working two jobs). Finally he got to prove he was powerful all along.
Also their relationship highlights that theme of Walt living free knowing he had little time left, especially when Skyler ends up having Ted, her former boss paralyzed after first trying to help him out but it all went wrong and she was crushed by the guilt of knowing what happened to Ted was her fault.(A case could be made that Ted's actions and greed was truly the cause of his own injuries.) Skyler becomes a shell of person knowing she caused harm to one person while Walt justifies and sometimes straight up shrugs off the numerous people he had killed.
Then the Walt/Jesse dynamic was another way for Walt to feel superior, not in the way of easily to manipulate Jesse into working with him or unknowingly running interference for him while he let his plans play out. Its pretty telling that Walt picked a former student of all people to help him make meth which made him feel like a successful as teacher in a way he felt he never really reached his students before. It another layer of his ego getting stroked.

Then there is the finale was him making amends, well as much as he could anyway, considering all the collateral damage left in his wake. Him getting out of the meth game in the last season was because he wants to end life relaxed and not having to look out for new threats up until his last breath.
Things get fucked and he watches everything he built crumble around him causing him to flee. But while up in the mountains across the country he knew his the cancer was about to take him anyway so he comes "home" to restore his legacy and reputation before he's dead.  Skyler gets a bit of closure, he knows his family will be financially stable after he's dead, Jesse is finally free to try and get some peace. Walt gets his revenge on who robbed him. Which brings me to the song over the last scene.
The song isn't referencing all the bad things he did or everyone he hurt on his rise to meth kingpin, if so then yes it could be seen as funny as I've heard some found it.
Instead it's used as an ode to his blue crystal meth that is his legacy.
Yes the first line of the song is " i guess I got what I deserved" which could reference him about to die ultimately from his actions as a drug kingpin. I think the fact that he is walking around the cookhouse based on HIS formula reflecting on everything that went into coming up with that blue crystal meth formula, his baby.
The song starts right around the time Walt would be hearing the police sirens coming his way. He is happy in the knowledge that though he is about to die, he dies surrounded by the blue meth kitchen which would confirm to everyone that he indeed was Heisenberg without him having to answer for all the evil he did in that final year of his life.
So this is why I think this was a fitting finale, I will admit that him coming back to town and doing what he can to "make things right" is a bit cheesy but it fits his M.O. which by what he does in the final episode leaves him in the best light possible to be remembered in, cementing his legacy to his family (minus Hank's wife, even though she gets to find where Hank is buried from the knowledge Walt gives Skyler) as a provider and a faithful husband.
Walt going out the way he did is the ultimate ego stroke.
Heisenberg never got caught by the cops, he got away with it.

Ok so that is my half cooked theory. Going back and filtering the show through the "cancer never went into remission" mindset and it gives the series an extra little weight. Again this was thrown together with notes I wrote in between doing actual work. Its totally possible that I missed the point of the show completely.

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